Compilation of Ironman Stories and Music Podcast

One of the many wonders I have on the start line of an Ironman is what is the background story of each athlete.  I am curious about what is going on inside – what is his-story or her-story.

I wonder where she’s from and what she had to do to get here.  I wonder if he endured an injury or illness and is here testing himself in ways he never imagined. I wonder if he/she feels ready and what they are thinking.

Then while watching people challenge themselves through the course and the subsequent finish line,– people of every age, shape, size, and ability I wonder again; “how did her race go?  Is it what she expected?  “Who did he meet out there today and will they become fast friends?”  What were their dark spots today and how did they get out of them?

This ‘wonder’ is the premise of this podcast. An opportunity to hear the athletes’ stories – the good, the bad and the ugly – the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

The stories you are about to hear are insightful, inspirational, informative and sometimes just simply funny.  I hope you enjoy this compilation from athletes, just like you who have endured Ironman and came out the other side a better version of themselves.

I have always been inspired by music – music helps me feel, it’s as if the music is an inroad to a deeper experience than the verbal word alone.  After each story you will hear a song that reminds the athlete of his/her experience of Ironman.


(2:23)  Dave Orlowski, one of the original Ironman athletes in the 1978 inaugural Iron Man Triathlon and has completed 29 Ironman (full) races around the world since 2008. During Dave’s IM race in Wales he discovers cyclone strength winds, holds on tight to his buddy and can’t find the finish line.

Song: Singing in the Rain – Gene Kelly

(9:26)  Amy Friese has the courage and strength for insight and inspiration. Finding herself stuck down deep in the abyss of an IM dark spot she heard herself asking questions such as “Am I awesome or am I crazy”? “What kind of athlete and coach am I really?” “Where did all this self-doubt come from?”. Find out how she eventually works her way out of the dark spot and runs herself to a PR.

Amy is the owner Fearless Nutrition where she coaches athletes and everyday people to be their best. She is an amazing coach. Please reach out to her at

Song: Sweet Disposition – Temper Trap

(24:13)  Dr. Eric Knight, a night vision and glaucoma specialist by day, is the finisher of 20 Ironman races since 1982. Eric, co-founder of the Ironman WI Secrets facebook group has befriended literally 1000’s of people via the group which feels more like a family than a virtual space. On September 11, 2016 Eric experienced his most memorable race, not because he PR’d but because his mission was to encourage his good friend (whom he met through the FB group), Dell Finney to cross that finish line despite two previous DNF’s. “Sometimes it takes a hard approach in order to get it done and I believed in him even before he believed in himself.”

Song: Fat Bottom Girls – Queen

(39:09)  Susan McNamee started training for and competing in Ironman races when she was 61. “We’re not too old to reach for new dreams”. Ironman has shown her how deep she can dig. Beginning her training experience Susan could not even swim 25 meters in the pool. She has since become the master of her sea and allowed tragedy to build her up rather than keep her down.

Susan is the owner of Mac Per4mance. She is a Certified Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist. Find out more about her empowering services at

Song: Club Can’t Handle Me – Guetta and Flo rida AND Believer – Imagine Dragons

(55:37)  Rudy Payne is now on her way to compete in the Ironman World Championships in Kona and has been on a wild, yet insightful, journey for many, many years.  During her Ironman race in 2011 she found herself offering prayers for her family throughout the day bringing her great peace.  With only a few miles remaining on the run course, a spectator on a bike rode by with large speakers playing a song she heard earlier and loved.  He was yelling “all you have left is a 5K” which lit her up and got her to the finish line.  A couple of weeks later a friend turned her onto this song again and it wasn’t until then that she listened to the lyrics in the chorus.  Find out what those lyrics were in this goose-bump creating story.

Song: Florence and the Machine – Dog Days are Over

(1:09:06) Mark Kochanski was inspired to start competing in triathlons 33 years ago after a tragic loss in his life. He is grateful for the healthy lifestyle he has achieved due to the sports’ rigorous challenge. Throughout his training and racing he has found a connection with people he never expected would happen and he now gives back to young triathletes so they too can experience the magic of Ironman. Mark talks about what it’s like to hear “You are an Ironman” for the very first time and how that first IM can never be duplicated. Mark and his wife Tammy own a triathlon coaching facility in Verona, WI called SBR. Want to experience great triathlon from experienced coaches such as Mark? Contact them at

Song: Cryptonite by 3 Doors Down

(1:27:22)  Jill Sommers is the owner of Jill M Sommers Performance Coaching and the creator of this podcast.  We all recognize that Ironman races are filled with unexpected situations and circumstances.  During one of her Ironman races Jill found out the hard way that not everything is what you think it is.  Hint: “That’s not water!”  Listen to how she “magically” turns this experience around to become one her great energy boosters.

Song: Thunderstruck – AC/DC

(1:37:27)  Christian Jensen is the Executive Director of myTeam Triumph in Wisconsin. In 2015 Christian and his captain Ian were competing in Ironman Boulder. The day’s temperature rose to 95 degrees, the altitude remained at 5430 ft, and the clock was running out. Christian talks about the dark place (or the growl zone) that he experienced on the course. He realized that much like the dark place in life it is the
reshaping of perspective that catapults one forward with lessons learned and the gift of an elevated comfort that he can handle whatever that next potential roadblock may be – both in Ironman AND in life.

Song: Light Up the Sky – The After